What are some good books for teens to read?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Oddly enough, nobody, as far as I could see, mentioned The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It seems odd because there are so many questions and answers about that novel in eNotes. I'm sure many readers have enjoyed it and learned from it. Fitzgerald was an excellent writer. His other novels are good too. His best is probably Tender is the Night. Ernest Hemingway did not get many nods. I would recommend his short stories, which are all available in one volume. Among his best stories are "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," "The Killers," and "Hills Like White Elephants." "Hills Like White Elephants" seems to be extremely popular with young readers. I recommend it highly--but if you get a copy of Hemingway's complete short stories you will undoubtedly want to read some others. Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie didn't get much attention from the people who responded to your question, but it must be very popular, judging from all the questions and answers in eNotes. If you like off-the-wall literature, I would recommend Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis and the stories of John Collier collected under the title of Fancies and Goodnights. One of his stories is about a young poet who gets tired of struggling to survive in the outside world and decides to pose as a department-store mannequin by day and sleep in the store at night. There are some strange things happening in the store after closing time. I can't remember seeing any mention of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, which has been described as an American masterpiece. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I think some of the best books for teenagers to read are interesting while providing social commentary that can be discussed and related to the world around them. I few that stuck out to me that I read in high school are 1984 by George Orwell, as well as Lord of the Flies. I also really enjoyed the Hunger Games trilogy and I believe that as popular as it is now, it can be used to make many comments on society and personal values. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A few years ago, I purchased the Bluford series of books for my middle school students to borrow and read independently. The Bluford books are about fictional teenagers in a fictional high school called Bluford High. I have seen students who say they hate reading read one novel in a night and come back for more. If your goal is to get kids interested in reading, then I highly recommend this series of currently 18 books.

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
  • Anything by Mark Twain
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • Where the Red Fern Grows
  • A Separate Peace
  • The Catcher in the Rye
  • The Story of My LIfe by Helen Keller
  • The Sun Also Rises

I think the most important thing is to read and to read often.  I would encourage you to try new genres of books, different authors, fiction vs. non-fiction, biographies/memoirs, etc.  If you are having trouble finding a book, talk to the librarian at your school or the public library.  Tell them the books you've liked in the past and they can help you find other books that might appeal to you.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There's a huge difference between what I might suggest for someone aged 13 and someone aged 19.

For the younger end of the teenaged spectrum, I like to make them think by reading and thinking about situations that seem familiar in some ways but involve huge changes in perspective. Books like The Giver or The City of Ember set up alternative living circumstances that can force some real consideration about personal values and viewpoints.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Catcher in the Rye speaks to a lot of young people though it is a bit dated today, I think. I honestly haven't read enough of the recent stuff like the Hunger Games to really comment on it. To Kill a Mockingbird resonates with many kids. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers is a good one as well. Of Mice and Men, as others have said, is powerful and readable, as is most of Steinbeck.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Catcher in the Rye has been suggested already and I would suggest it too. The Lord of the Rings might interest you if you like fantasy. Or you might enjoy something more serious and literary like The Pearl. 

Looking to popular fiction writers can be great for teens. Page-turners like The DaVinci Code and Jurassic Parkcan entertain and also create a real love of reading, even if the books aren't exactly literary art. (They're still fun to read.)

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One book I am always recommending is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. This is a coming-of-age novel about a girl who loves to read, and it is ideal for any girl who loves to read. Judging from the many questions that eNotes receives about book, some of the most popular with teens are The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice, and Great Expectations. The stories and novels about Sherlock Holmes also seem very popular, as are the dystopian novels 1984 and Brave New World. John Steinbeck's novels are still very popular with teenagers, notably Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men. Books of short stories make great reading. I would especially recommend the stories of Maupassant, O. Henry, John Collier, Saki, and Edgar Allan Poe. Agatha Christie's mystery novels featuring Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple are still very popular and very readable. Two of her best mysteries are Murder on the Orient Express and And Then There Were None. The Awakening by Kate Chopin is very popular, especially, it seems with female readers. I envy you being able to discover so many great books and great writers at your early age.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial